Despite the government’s aggressive approach in criminally prosecuting fraudulent providers, a report from the Department of Health and Human Services inspector general found that Medicare’s new accounting system failed to automatically extract critical data regarding providers. This failure may lead to the inability to collect more than $543 million in overpayments to Medicare providers.
In 2010, Medicare overpaid providers more than $9.6 billion. Since that time, Medicare has implemented a new accounting system – a system that failed to automatically extract provider and contractor information from the old accounting system. As a result, Medicare does not have provider or contractor information critical to collecting from those that were previously overpaid.
In addition, the new Medicare accounting system allows information about providers to remain outdated, with little consequence for providers who fail to update their contact information. Providers receive payments via direct deposit, thus eliminating the incentive to ensure that Medicare has a correct address in its accounting system.
According to agency spokesman Brian Cook, “Reducing the incidence of overpayments is a high priority for [Medicare].” However, once a provider has been overpaid, having detailed information regarding the provider, such as a proper contact address, is critical to notifying the provider and collecting any overpayments.
While criminal prosecution of fraudulent providers continues to remain a priority for the government, the inspector general’s report highlights glaring deficiencies in Medicare’s new accounting system. Medicare should address these deficiencies with the same sense of urgency as the criminal prosecution of fraudulent providers.
If you have been contacted concerning an overpayment or a possible criminal investigation, contact the experienced and professional fraud team at Fausone Bohn, LLP for sound legal advice. Contact Breeda O’Leary at (248) 380-0000 or online at www.MichiganFraudLawyer.com.
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